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Friday, May 30, 2014

End of the Month View -- May 2014, The Bottle Tree Bed

It can't possibly be the end of May already, can it? It's hard to believe yet another month has gone by. Summer will be here before you know it. In fact, we had several days in May that felt very much like summer, with temperatures in the 80s. But we've also had some really lovely spring weather lately, sunshine, no rain, and with temps in the 60s and low 70s, which is exactly how I like it. We are slated for the same weather next week as well. I'm going to have to start watering soon.

Here is the Bottle Tree Bed on May 30 in late afternoon sun.

I haven't made many changes to the Bottle Tree Bed, but I have made a few. They're not very noticeable, however. I moved some species tulips into the bed from a couple of other spots in the front garden, where they had gotten buried under several inches of soil when the front garden was redone back in December. They had to push up very, very long flower stalks through all that extra soil, and then flopped over when I dug them to be moved. And of course, once they were moved, they almost immediately withered. So I'm hoping that next spring they will re-emerge on shorter, sturdier stalks.

Everything else is getting taller, and the Verbascum, which were dug and divided earlier this year, are flowering this month, and are almost finished in fact.

Most of the Verbascum phaeum, which I grew from seed several years ago, are this purple color, although a couple are very light pink.

There is one Verbascum 'Southern Charm' which I bought a couple of years ago

Also flowering in the bed is this hardy Geranium, which I don't know the name of. I dug and divided it earlier this year, so now I have three or four clumps of it in the bed.

Elderberry 'Black Beauty' is flowering

The enormous Ceanothus thyrsiflorus, one of the very few shrubs planted by the previous owners that is still growing in the garden, is flowering right now. It has a lovely scent, and if you get close to it you can actually hear it humming, the bees love it so much.

Ceanothus at the base of the Douglas firs in the Bottle Tree Bed

One of my favorite native shrubs, Lonicera involucrata, also called twinberry honeysuckle, is flowering and berrying up in the bed. The flowers and berries come in pairs. Although the flowers are yellow, not red, hummingbirds adore them.

Twinberry pairs of flowers, which hide under the leaves and are inconspicuous.
Deep purple, almost black berries, with bright red bracts, give the shrub color for the rest of the summer, and really stand out

I bought some new plants to put in this bed, but haven't gotten down on my hands and knees to dig holes and add them yet. I thought the bed needed some warmer colors, so I bought a couple of orange Erysimum called 'Apricot Twist' last weekend. They smell delicious!

Erysimum 'Apricot Twist' in the pot ghetto

Last summer, when I was originally gathering plants to put in this bed, I bought a couple of orange Verbascums called 'Clementine,' but they didn't survive the winter in their pots. I've been looking and looking everywhere for replacements, but can't find that variety again, so I decided to get the Erysimum instead. Not only do they smell great, but if they're like others I've grown, they will flower for a long, long time.

I also bought a couple of Verbascums to add to the mostly purple ones -- another 'Southern Charm' and one called 'Eleanor's Blush' which actually looks quite a lot like 'Southern Charm.' They both have a purple fluffy center, but the pink of 'Southern Charm' is perhaps just a bit more of an old-fashioned dusky rose.

Verbascum 'Eleanor's Blush'

So, that's the current state of the Bottle Tree Bed. It's doing well, I'm tweaking it occasionally, but I'm really quite happy with all the changes I made to it earlier this year. It has improved immensely from the vast hodgepodge of ugliness that it was back in January when I first embarked on its redo. I never did do anything about the drunken Mahonia, it's still in there, way in the back in the corner. I still might move it, I don't know. I'm afraid if I move it, it'll die on me.

If you want to read my other End of the Month View posts about this bed, you can find them at the following links.


The End of the Month View is hosted by Helen at The Patient Gardener's Weblog. You can find her post here, where other bloggers will leave links to their EoMV posts in the comments.


  1. Looking good! Thanks for the heads-up about twinberry. I didn't know it before, but I think I'd like to include it in my garden.

  2. That ceanothus is wonderful. What a gift to be able to build around that.

  3. Hi Alison! I like how it looks now! A am jealous of your Ceanothus! It's a true magnet for bees and the color of its flowers is so beautiful! My three C. trees went on strike and decided to die, since they don't have enough sun. Sigh...

  4. Looking very good. And the Erysimum will be a great addition. What a fabulous colour.

  5. I 'm impressed by your huge Ceanothus, beautiful. Some of the Verbascums have such a beautiful colours, especially the Southern Charms. I had them too in my garden, bought plants and self sown but during winter they mostly disappear. Wet soil and frost don't go together. The Erisimum is certainly a beautiful and good addition to this part of garden. Also much easier to keep.
    Wish you happy gardening!

  6. It's filling in beautifully Alison , I hope you're hosting the next plant swap ,so we can all see it .

  7. This bed looks good. I hope that as I type, you are out planting those new plants. Envy the Ceanothus, which does not thrive here. Can you just give the Mahonia a tiny haircut and see if it puts out new growth in the right direction?

  8. Thanks for joining in again this month. Seeing your verbascum has helped me decide what I need to add some additional colour and height to the driveway border

  9. The BTB is looking great Alison - that's a beautiful Ceanothus, I can see why you kept it.
    I know where all the Verbascum Clemantine are - over here in Nurseries and GCs, each one I have visited lately is crammed full with them. I did purchase one but will have to treat as an annual - they don't like conditions in my garden and it's a plant I've tried and failed many times. I couldn't resist Clemantine though.

  10. It has been fun to watch your beds begin and develop. I remember when you first posted about this bed. Thanks for the post. The bed looks great.

  11. Looking great Alison! And loving all that colour in your bed!

  12. It' s looking great Alison. I love the colour of the Erysimum. I am mad on Verbascums too but I generally find that the unusual coloured ones don' t come back. I wish I could grow a wonderful Ceonothus like that. It always gets ruined by frost here.
    You have a plant ghetto, I have my maids in waiting. There are always some. Not because I' m lazy but sometimes I just can' t decide where to put them. No more room really, but that is never going to stop me buying new plants.

  13. 'Apricot Twist' is a favourite of mine, I think it is going to look great in your bed, and I really like your verbascums too. The whole bed is bulking up really nicely. I am going to steal your "pot ghetto" term, I have one of my own - don't we all?!

  14. I am adoring the colors you are placing here and the verbascum is stunning as is the blue shrub.

  15. Your bottle bed looks great, Alison! Everything has come together so quickly. I love that purple Verbascum. I planted 3 V. 'Southern Charm' last year and had one flower near the end of April this year, just before our first major heatwave - apparently, they don't like heat that intense as I haven't seen hide nor hair of them since.

  16. The garden is looking great! I love your ceanothus. I'm planning on putting a bunch along the road as part of a screen. Lonicera involucrata is such a lovely native. I had some that seeded into the woods via birds, but the deer mowed them into oblivion.

  17. Looking as superb as always my friend!

  18. How lovely, that lonicera is a winner. love the berries and bracts better than the flowers

  19. You divided your Verbascums? You are a brave girl. I would be too afraid of breaking off the taproot. But obviously you were successful. They look outstanding. I love that plant. I've never heard of an orange variety but I be these erysimum will do really well here, blooming much longer and needing no staking. And the fact that they have have a sweet fragrance is the icing on the cake. Great post!


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